You have likely heard others in Anchorage answer accusations of assault by saying that they were simply defending themselves and immediately been skeptical of their claims. Indeed, that was the same attitude that many of those who have come to see us here at The Law Office of Joshua P. Fink L.L.C. subscribed to prior to finding themselves the subjects of criminal scrutiny. While you most likely attempt to avoid any scenario where the potential for a violent confrontation may arise, there may be instances where such circumstances find you. The question then becomes to what extent you are legally justified to defend yourself.
It is typically expected that you will retreat from situations where a conflict could occur if doing so is reasonable. However, per Section 11.81.335 of Alaska’s Criminal Law code, you have no duty to try and retreat from a potentially violent encounter if it occurs in your home or on any property that you own, lease or have the permission of the property owner (or a tenant) to be.
Exactly how far are you permitted to go in responding to such a threat? The law permits you to respond with force (even deadly force) if you have reason to believe that not doing so could put you at risk of any of the following:
- Serious physical injury
- Sexual assault or abuse
You cannot, however, respond violently to a peace officer acting within the scope of the law in trying to detain you or otherwise performing their duties (even if you believe their actions are unwarranted).
More information on understanding when violence may be justified can be found throughout our site.